RALEIGH, N.C. — Vice President Mike Pence pushed for reopening the country’s schools and touted the administration’s efforts to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus during a visit to North Carolina Wednesday.
The vice president made two stops in the Triangle, visiting a school and a biotech company that is helping recruit volunteers to test a new coronavirus vaccine.
In an exclusive interview with Spectrum News, Pence said, “The best place for our kids is back in the classroom. We don’t want our kids to fall behind academically.”
“There are real costs in distance learning, that’s why the national education association even said recently that distance learning doesn’t take the place of in-person education,” he said.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos joined the vice president as they toured Thales Academy, a private school in Apex, North Carolina.
“We want our kids to be able to learn in the classroom but also, remember, there are so many services for children, from nutrition to children with special needs, to counseling for kids with learning disabilities that happen at our schools,” Pence told Spectrum News 1’s Tim Boyum.
He said the Trump administration will work with Congress to get more funding for the nation’s schools so they can reopen.
“We’re going to continue to make sure resources are not a barrier,” he said. “We believe it’s best for our kids, we know it’s best for working families.”
He said the administration will “respect decisions of local authorities and state authorities.”
But, he said, “The best place for our kids is back in the classroom.”
“The risk that the coronavirus poses for healthy children is very low, but cost of children not being back at school is very significant,” the vice president told Spectrum News.
Pence said, “Now is the time for all of us to remain vigilant.” He said people need to keep washing their hands, and make sure to wear a mask where required.
Coronavirus vaccine, treatment
Pence said the development of the coronavirus has been at a “historic pace,” with phase 3 clinical trials beginning this week.
The results, so far, he said have been “very promising.”
The vice president told Spectrum News that the Trump administration is not going to wait for final approval from the Food and Drug Administration to start producing the vaccine.
He said the federal government plans to pay to produce doses of the coronavirus vaccine so they are ready to go when they are approved.
“We are literally buying hundreds of millions of syringes to be able to distribute them,” Pence said.
When asked about the drug hydroxychloroquine, Pence said “Americans should listen to their doctors.”
The FDA has rejected hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, but President Donald Trump touted the drug as recently as this week.
Some people reported positive experiences, he told Spectrum News. “We want the American people to have the full range of medicines and resources that their doctors determine to be appropriate.”